Cha Bum-kun's star has not just fallen, it has plummeted meteor-like to earth. He led South Korea into their fourth successive World Cup finals in France with reasonable expectations of a place in the second round. Cha is no Ally McLeod or even Aime Jacquet. He is not the sort of coach to stir the passions with unrealistic goals or talk of South Korea having enough quality to shock the world. A hard taskmaster, whose previous record as a top goalscorer in Germany's Bundesliga had won him the unstinting respect of his players, Cha was nonetheless quietly confident that he had a squad who could win a game or two. When that squad started to disintegrate because of injury, illness and ill-luck on the training field, his job became even more difficult. He gambled by leaving out his leading goalscorer, Choi Yong-soo, against Mexico and was stung when Ha Seok-ju was sent off and he had to re-shuffle the pack with two missing aces. South Korea lost that game 3-1 and when Holland hammered them 5-0, the coach was unceremoniously sacked. The story goes that the pressure was so great from the Korean public, who dearly wanted a good run in the World Cup to take their minds off the country's economic woes, that the football association felt compelled to axe the coach. In such circumstances, Cha had few options left in his career. He could hardly return to his once-thriving soccer school - nobody wants to be coached by a fallen hero - or take the reins of a local side. So he upped and went to a Chinese First Division club in an attempt to rehabilitate himself. Sadly, he was tempted to speak about his World Cup misfortune, and during the interview reportedly claimed that matches in the South Korean league were fixed. If that sounds like a case of getting his own back on his former bosses, that's exactly how the Korean FA interpreted the remarks. Justice, if that's the right word for it, was swift. A disciplinary committee has banned him from coaching in South Korea for five years, a punishment that is likely to be ratified next month. Cha must be feeling a bit like a player who places himself in the defensive wall and receives a whack in the unmentionables for his trouble - really sore. He says that his comments were misrepresented by the magazine but given that the Korean FA branded them 'false' without thoroughly looking into the allegations, it's unlikely the FA will take the matter up with the writer in question. In a way it suited the FA to have Cha further discredited just days before they announced the new manager of the national team. Like Cha, Huh Jung-moo is an ex-player who competed in the 1986 World Cup and was assistant coach of the national team four years ago in the US. But he does not have the same pedigree as Cha, the country's one true footballing icon before his spectacular fall from grace. With Cha conveniently out of the way, and hugely out of favour, Huh has a clear run at preparing a side for the 2002 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by South Korea. With other Asian countries, like sleeping giants China and Hong Kong, going for experienced, worldly-wise coaches from overseas, the choice of Huh tends to buck the trend. Mind you, given the treatment meted out to Cha, it's not exactly a dream coaching job. Best of luck, Mr Huh.